Obama takes climate mission to Latin America

Obama arrives in Panama. Photo credit: US Embassy Panama via Flickr.
By Anders Lorenzen

US president Barack Obama has taken his climate mission to Latin America.


At the Americas summit, held in Panama last week, the main focus was the lifting of US sanctions on Cuba, but climate and clean energy policies were also on the agenda.


Speaking in Panama, Obama highlighted the challenge of combating climate change and securing a clean energy future. In partnership with several Latin American leaders, he announced that a number of countries would double the generation of non-hydro renewable energy sources by 2020. In order to achieve that, Obama, in partnership with Caribbean and Central American partners, announced a new clean energy fund. This fund would help to mobilise private sector investments in clean energy, which would reduce carbon emissions across the region. A new energy task force was also established to look at additional steps Latin America and the US could take together.


He also called on countries to aggressively phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and recommended that fossil fuel subsidy reforms are discussed at the 2015 meeting of Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas. The US will continue to support the idea that a Regional Climate Center will be established in the region by 2015, which should contribute to the goal that all countries have access to climate data that will enhance the capabilities for resilient development by 2020.


Obama has made climate change a key priority in his second term in office. In addition to unveiling a set of national policies and regulations, he has taken the fight internationally, with an agenda of agreeing a global climate treaty in Paris at the end of this year. Last year he formed a historic climate deal with China and a clean energy partnership with India shortly after. Last year, he also pressed Australia’s climate-skeptic prime minister, Tony Abbott, on climate change. He also directed US Secretary of State John Kerry to make climate change one of the most important foreign policies.

Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted the region as one of the region’s most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in its latest assessment report, AR5.

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